Texas is, somewhat famously, one of the strongest holdouts to the state-level legalization of marijuana. Local politicians are keenly aware of this fact, and it has become a favorite tactic for those from both sides of the political divide to say that cannabis legalization should be a matter for the state, not for local governments,
However, a bill filed by Dallas-based state Rep. Jessica González in early March 2021 promises to force the issue on local marijuana legalization. House Bill 3248 would give local counties and municipalities the power to legalize recreational cannabis by ordinance or order. If the bill passes, Dallas and other local Texas governments would be able to legalize the sale of cannabis to people 21 years or older.
As of the moment, only CBD-based medical marijuana is legal in Texas through a doctor’s prescription under the Compassionate Use Act. The required proportion of CBD in medical marijuana is so high some commenters say that it’s more accurately described as medical CBD legalization.
The proposed bill would also levy a 10% tax on all cannabis products to pay for regulation, testing, quality control, and local government oversight. The bulk of the taxes would go to the Foundation school fun.
Dallas rehabs, on the other hand, continue to see record numbers of cases. Some fear that legalization would further increase cases of misuse.
We don’t have to make a gigantic reach to figure out what would happen if recreational marijuana became legal in Dallas, either because the state or federal government finally legalized it, or if it was done through a piece of legislation like House Bill 3248.
While we Texans may sometimes believe we’re exceptional, the aftermath of legalization here is likely to mirror the experiences of other states that have legalized cannabis.
Here are a few things that are likely to happen:
Dallas law enforcement and cannabis policymakers have long begun the process of de-prioritizing marijuana-related crimes. Marijuana-related arrests and cases use up a significant portion of law enforcement and court resources. Critics also point out that these arrests also tend to target minorities and other disadvantaged groups.These are all things law enforcement and other stakeholders could ill-afford in the face of a massive opioid crisis and a fast-emerging methamphetamine problem. The Dallas/Fort Worth area has long been identified as a major transshipment point for drugs and other contraband brought in by international criminal gangs.
Virtually every attempt to reduce the amount of resources used for controlling marijuana in favor of pursuing opioid and meth cases has, so far, been mostly met with both tacit and vocal approval. Legalization is bound to give law enforcement more of a hand in mitigating the influx of other relatively more dangerous drugs.
Colorado’s experience with cannabis legalization showed a modest but definite increase in cannabis use disorders across the board, according to a study published in JAMA in 2020. Legalization, even when controlled, will bring more access and more opportunities for use.
While this may not seem overly concerning for many, the fact remains that even with a legal consumption age of 21, adolescents and children are going the be more likely to get access to it and misuse it, regardless. This mimics the adolescent use patterns with alcohol and prescription medications.
Unfortunately, while probably safe in controlled doses for adults, adolescents are extremely vulnerable to the psychoactive effects of cannabis. The use of cannabis has been linked to halted brain development in adolescents and young adults as well as a heightened possibility of developing serious cannabis use disorder. Regardless of any proposed controls, legalization will increase access, put marijuana in more homes, and thus increase the odds of repeated misuse occurring among unauthorized individuals.
This is one of the more obvious things that are likely to happen and is likely to influence any decision on legalization. Using Colorado again as an example due to its long legalization history, the state reported $2 billion in sales in 2020. A recent report suggested that if Texas were to start legalization, it could reap up to $500 million a year in additional revenue, which may be a rather conservative estimate.
If only Dallas had legal cannabis while the rest of the state kept prohibition, there would be potential for the city to reap enormous revenues, not just from cannabis and sales taxes, but from all the additional economic activity such a move is undoubtedly going to generate.
We are already seeing this happening in the reverse, where people from outside Texas smuggle in marijuana that was legal in the state they acquired it from. If only Dallas legalized cannabis, surrounding governments will be pressured into the decision of enforcing prohibition or reaping additional revenue by legalizing weed in their backyards.
By most accounts, legalization is likely going to happen, eventually. While it’s true that Texas is a holdout, larger demographic shifts suggest that it is likely to make it happen, sooner rather than later. And if and when Dallas does legalize marijuana, that does not reduce the drug’s known potential to cause harm when misused
If you think or someone you know might have a cannabis use disorder, get in touch with our team at Dallas Drug Treatment Centers. We can connect you with different marijuana rehab programs in Dallas and beyond. Stay healthy, and be well!